Barracks Life
Sgt. Jared S. Eastman, 1HBCT Public Affairs

FORT STEWART, Ga. - There is nothing worse than running out of money, especially when the realization hits you in public. Be it at the grocery store or out shopping, seeing "denied" on an LCD screen is never a good sign.

I'll admit, it's happened to me. In a world where we expect instant up-to-date balances for our bank accounts it's easy to make a mistake and mis-budget because a charge failed to post immediately.

However, it is not impossible to maintain some level of financial stability, and there are a few easy things you can do that will make sure the next time you put magnetic strip to reader it isn't a gamble.

First, balance your 'checkbook'. In recent history, there were fewer ways to use your money.

The most common ways were cash and check. Today, most business don't even take checks, but that is beside the point. What people had to do was keep a written or mental record of how much money they had in the bank in contrast to how much the spent. A bounced check would mean anywhere from a $50-250 fine. Today, banks charge overdraft fees for going over the balance and although it may not be anywhere near $250, it is still your money. So keep a mental, digital or written record of your balance, there are even applications for smart phones to keep track.

Second, try not to spend money you haven't earned. Credit is a beautiful thing, and it's good to build credit in smaller increments, but it can be detrimental to your finances to go out and buy that brand new 742" flat-screen TV. This is one of those situations where just because you can, doesn't mean you should. It is nice to have nice things, but you should avoid going into debt for it. Companies try to lure customers with 'no-interest' and 'no money down' pitches, but you have to keep one thing in mind: these companies need to make money somewhere. Creditors do not loan money out simply to be nice; it's a business just like any other one.

Third, save some of your money. It can be hard to save, but you should always try to put 10-15 percent of our paycheck into your savings account. If you set up an automatic deposit it's even easier to go on as if that money doesn't exist. The reason you need savings isn't necessarily for buying that 742" TV someday, but in case something happens. Whether it be a broken part on a vehicle or an invitation for your best friend's wedding in Hawaii, it is always good to have some money saved up.

Page last updated Thu January 26th, 2012 at 10:07